The Hillbilly and the Consulate
This I happen to know from personal experience, is a very true story. Unfortunately, my ex wife … I mean the ex-wife of the man involved, never forgave her husband for this callous act. All things being equal, I would have to consider this one to be poetic justice, well served … in the most odoriferous of ways!
The corn fed gals back home are, by and large, good women for the most part. They are not shy and can put up with a lot … but funny, I never did meet with one that could put up with me for any real length of time … and certainly never long enough to get one to marry me.
As I made my way out west, I eventually came to develop a deep love and understanding for the Mexican culture in addition to that of the Native Americans, more particularly, the Paiute people scattered throughout the American west.
It was not so much a case of where I had set out with the intention of marrying in mind, but one thing led to another, and I ended up marrying the most amazing … and most beautiful Mexican gal that this world has ever had the good grace to lay its eyes upon. Built with fire and faith, she was without any doubt the best thing that had ever happened in my life … at least until she wasn’t … but that was largely my fault too … admittedly so ... but we sure did have some times while they lasted.
When our house burned down, our friends had most certainly come to our support. But that is not the point of this story, nearly so much as just a little background behind the events that did lead to this story taking place. Unfortunately, the government was not so agreeable to everything.
To make a long story bearably short, when our house had burned down, the volunteer fire department had literally broken open every safe in the house … both safes … ostensibly to make sure that nothing in them would explode … yeah, like the diamond ring that disappeared … but I am not here to hack on them either … or the government for that matter … not too much anyhow.
Suffice it to say that my wife, being a Mexican, needed paperwork to live and work in the US. Our kids (since they were not mine by blood) needed papers to go to school, and all of those papers had been in the safes that the fire department had gone to so much trouble to protect us from.
To make matters worse, when we went to immigration, they did not have records of all of the paperwork as apparently all of the paperwork was stored in boxes down in El Paso. I had already made one trip down to El Paso with my wife and our kids, but alas, all to no avail. Our congress lady at the time was fighting off charges of being the member of Congress with the most bounced checks … quite the impressive feat in itself really … and was unwilling to do anything at all to help us.
Thus it ended up that I had to go to Mexico … to fight with the American government … and when all of that was said and done, I still had to go to Sacramento … to fight with the Mexican government … yeah!? I could never figure that one out either. The trip to Mexico probably has quite a few tales worth telling, but those will probably have to wait for a second book … if this series ever becomes popular enough to merit such a thing. Suffice it to say that a couple of trips later, and far too much time along the borderlands, I was finally done fighting with the American government down in Mexico.
Now it was time to focus my efforts on fighting with the Mexican government … in California … so my wife and my kids and our family could try to resume our lives where they had been short-circuited by a house fire … no pun intended.
The first trip took us from Northern Nevada over the Sierra Nevada range during a snowstorm so fierce that the plows could not keep up with the snow and we were shut down on the highway for the first night … on what should have been a three hour drive more or less.
Apparently, some other idiot had figured that since the plows could not keep up with the snow on the interstate, he would just take the back roads … and ended up endangering his own family by getting them locked up in a snowbank … and getting severe frostbite walking back to civilization to get help getting them out … and was hailed as a hero for being such an idiot.
Go figure. It would normally not even be worth mentioning, but it would somewhat exemplify the challenges … and the types of people I would be facing off against over the next few months.
Our first trip to Sacramento ended with us finally arriving at the Mexican Consulate … a very small, somewhat shabby office in a small industrial park. The entire eastern side was nothing but a singular plate glass window that allowed the morning sun in to quite literally bake us all as if we had been placed in a solar oven designed by some severe masochist … or their sadist counterpart.
After the course of a day, we had a list of all of the requirements that we would have to put together, and the initial paperwork filled out and approved so that we could proceed with the paperwork we needed. Government efficiency right?
Our second trip to Sacramento saw us going over the Sierra Nevada Mountains during a snowstorm … though in fairness, this one was not as bad as the first one had been and we were allowed to continue on our journey with the snow chains firmly in place on all four tires. We did make it, but it took an exceptionally long time to get over the mountains and down into Sac to start the second wasted day we would spend there.
Once again, we were left for the entire morning to sit and roast in front of the bay window, before finally getting called up to the counter in the early afternoon. We were then told about all of the additional paperwork we would need, paperwork which had apparently … “inadvertently” been left off of the list of the paperwork that was required.
Fortunately, they did have people located conveniently in the same industrial park, who were more than willing and capable of providing us with this unexpected paperwork … at an extremely elevated price of course. Still, we had hoped to get out of there that afternoon, and as long as we were willing to pay their exorbitant fees, it seems they believed that we would be able to finish everything up that trip and be able to finally recommence with our normal family life … leastwise, as normal a life as we had ever enjoyed.
We ended up running back and forth to the different offices in the industrial park, gathering all the newly required paperwork, me starting to say something each and every time they came out with an even more outrageous price for their “services” and a small fee for being so expeditious in rendering the same … and my wife subsequently … and quite fiercely stomping on my toes and telling me to shut up before I could even get a word out.
Finally, all of these additional requirements taken care of, we proceeded back to the Mexican consulate, which had cooled somewhat in the waning afternoon sun … though it still wreaked of the sweat and impatience of so many people kept trapped therein all morning. Lo and behold, we were even able to make it up to the counter to get the final matricula stamp that was needed to make all of the paperwork legal in both the US and in Mexico. Except that this little stamp … came at a steep price.
There was an elderly lady tending to our needs, and she calmly explained to my wife, that the matricula stamp that was required on the front of each page, would now be required on both the front and the back of each page … and that the five dollar fee per stamp, was now going to be twenty-five dollars per stamp … but it was okay … because my wife was married to a “gringo” and “he did not love you anyhow” … which is when the lady found out just how well I spoke Spanish and that I had been listening to … and understanding the entire conversation … and no amount of toe-stomping by my wife was going to silence me after such an outrageous and egregious attack on my character.
And they sat there and let me have my say … before telling me that all of the paper work had now been invalidated, and had been late and was thus, unacceptable … and would have to be completely redone and resubmitted anew.
I think I called those politicians everything but human on the long journey back home. A bunch of petty bureaucrats, full of hot air, with just enough power to seriously mess with us … full of hot air … and then I had a thought … and what a thought it was.
All of the requisite paperwork completed … including all of the additional paperwork that had previously remained unannounced in hand and duly signed, recorded and registered in all the right ways, after about six weeks, allowed us to plan our third trip over the mountains and down to Sacramento. Sure enough, the night we were to set out, it started to snow … severely.
Thus it was that we planned to light out at about two in the morning. My wife had gone out with some friends for some occasion she had, and she had taken our children with her. She would be back long before it was time to leave at two in the morning, and her and the kids could sleep on the way down.
I contemplated the events of the next day over an early dinner … consisting of almost a gallon of kidney beans, topped off with lots of raw onion and raw garlic … and a dozen hard-boiled and deviled eggs, and a twelve pack of Old Milwaukee … which I still happen to like by the way … even if it is inexpensive.
I was thinking about what would ensue when those petty politicians began spouting off with nothing but hot air, only to get some hot air in return … on my terms.
I am a hillbilly and a cowboy, so we had no shortage of quilts. I explained to my wife that I had to leave the window open slightly to counter the heater and to keep the windshield from fogging up … though I may have failed to mention the source of that fog at the time.
Despite the snowstorm, I kept my window cracked … and once they were soundly asleep, I opened it up a bit more … just to make sure that my family would not suffocate in the ensuing fog … and fog it did … a deep, all-encompassing green fog that would have knocked any hungry buzzard right off a shit pole.
I made a point not to make any stops before we got to the Consulate and hurriedly got out of the car before I woke them up. It would never snow down in the Sacramento Valley and in fact, it was warming up quite nicely, allowing me to keep the van doors open as they got ready to enter that solar oven yet again.
While I seriously doubt that there was a real and tangible green fog spreading through that office as the morning sun fired up the solar oven we were all packed in so tightly, it was easy to see its effects on the surrounding people, whose faces would first turn up, then turn green as the fog thickened. My wife was giving me stares that … if looks could kill, I would most definitely not have survived that journey.
I simply shrugged it off, seemingly oblivious to everything that was going on around us, not unaware of the odors by any means, but not letting them bother me … and remembering my toes and rubbing them in a manner she would be sure to see, assured her that I was doing my best to retain my silence as we had agreed upon.
When at last the green fog did hit the counter, it was not without at least some satisfaction that I noted that the lady who had been so “kind” to us before was the first person behind the counter to become aware that something was just not right.
As her face turned different shades of gray and green, she struggled with her work. Finally, and apparently not being able to stand it any longer, she went and knocked on the office door of the consul … whose face immediately turned up as soon as he exited the air conditioned comfort of his private office.
They proceeded to close the Consulate down, placing the one electric fan that had been blowing on all of us facing out in one door, and placing the other electric fan from behind the counter at the other door blowing in, and then had us all wait outside. As we were walking out, it was just by chance that we happened to be walking in relatively close proximity to the consul himself.
We were close enough for me to recognize the Cruz Real he pulled out … an exceptionally fine cigar that I could get for about a quarter where I had lived in Mexico, but which cost me about fifteen dollars … a luxury my wife would not allow me in the US.
My youngest son, who happened to be maybe about six at the time, reached up, pulled on my shirt tail and said in quite the innocent tone “You did that didn’t you Papi?” … and I could no longer contain myself but busted out in the best laugh I had had in quite some time, and let one rip with just a little sound … almost as confirmation of his belief.
Apparently this action and interaction had not been lost on the Consul.
The Consulate itself had been closed for forty-three minutes in total … yes, I timed it. When they did open back up, I was in and out in less than three minutes … and what is more, I had the private phone number of the Consul who asked me to call him directly should there by any more issues with the paperwork, so we would not have to be “inconvenienced” by yet another trip to the Sacramento Valley, and that little twenty-five dollar stamp?
It never cost me a dime.
Mind you, my wife and kids were most un-amused on the journey home … though at least they had the quilts to keep themselves warm as they now all felt compelled to open their windows for the ride back home.
Let us know what you think please!